Study: Consumers did half of their online spending on marketplaces in 2016
Marketplaces are taking an increasing share of business-to-consumer (B2C) online retail sales.
Last year, shoppers did half of their online spending through marketplaces — a level that could rise to 66% by 2022, according to “Half of B2C Online Retail Spend Came from Marketplaces in 2016,” a report from Forrester.
As marketplaces continue to offer easy-to-use online shopping websites, more consumers are using these destinations to buy merchandise. In 2016, 75% of active marketplace buyers came from Tmall, Amazon, JD.com, and eBay. Marketplaces also simplify the sales process for retailers, as they often cover the costs of driving consumers to their products.
Despite marketplaces’ popularity, their costs and commission rates can lower retailers’ profit margins. The large number of retailers on marketplaces can also make it harder for a brand to stand out online. To spur marketplaces’ future growth, companies must balance:
Free shipping versus actual shipping costs. Amazon’s net shipping costs in 2016 exceeded $16 billion, but revenues from Prime membership and consumer or retailer shipping payments covered only 55% of this. Amazon’s shipping costs grew faster than its shipping revenues in 2016, and the cost of shipping could further increase as more shoppers subscribe to its Prime service. On eBay, most transactions across the U.S, the U.K., and Germany involved free shipping in 2016.
The growth of third-party retailers versus the customer experience. Third-party retailers often subcontract their online delivery services, giving marketplace owners less control of the end-to-end customer experience. To challenge Alibaba, JD.com operates its own logistics network in China to provide a better customer experience, and 60% of its employees are involved directly with package delivery.
In-stock items versus inventory costs. When researching their purchases in stores, European shoppers said price, free shipping, and in-stock items are the three most important criteria influencing their purchase. In-stock availability, however, comes at a price: Amazon estimates that a 1% increase in inventory valuation adds $130 million to the cost of sales.
Marketplace services vs. retailer costs. The “take rate” is the amount retailers pay, as a proportion of their gross merchandise volume (GMV), to sell on a marketplace. While each marketplace uses different take rates, these rates are decreasing. In 2016, eBay’s average take rate fell to 7.7% of GMV, down from 8.0% in 2014. Just one-third of Alibaba’s retail revenues came from take rates; two-thirds came from online marketing services, where merchants pay for display ads or bid for keywords on the marketplace to promote their product or service listings.
The costs of online vs. offline influence. Retailers with a physical presence enable consumers to “click and collect” from stores and can influence their online and offline purchases while they’re in a store. As a result, Alibaba is investing in physical retail, with its offer for the Intime Retail Group and its partnership with consumer electronics retailer Suning. Similarly, Amazon is investing in its new “Amazon Go” stores to offer customers a hybrid online/offline shopping experience — one that allows them to shop and leave the store without going through a checkout — as well as online shopping and click-and-collect grocery services, the report said.
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Study: Hispanic customers going online for holiday shopping
With access to more disposable income, Hispanic consumers will up their holiday spending this year — especially through e-commerce.
This was according to “ThinkNow Retail Report 2017,” a study from ThinkNow Research and multicultural market research firm Jelena Group. Compared to last year, the study revealed that Hispanics and African-Americans are feeling as or more optimistic about their ability to spend this holiday season. Conversely, fewer non-Hispanic White and Asian consumers plan on spending more this holiday, compared to their responses in 2016.
Specifically, 33% of Hispanics will be spending more this year. Also revealing is where they intend to spend their discretionary income.
In 2016, 52% of all purchases made by Hispanic consumers were expected to be made at physical stores. This year, only 46% of all Hispanic holiday purchases are planned for physical stores.
E-commerce will gain those purchases, and 62% of Hispanics who will shop online will use their smartphones to place orders. That’s significantly higher than the 50% total market average, and 46% of non-Hispanic White online shoppers who intend to use their smart phones, the study revealed.
Amazon is the top online shopping destination for all consumers (55%), except among African- Americans, who will opt for Walmart (62%). Amazon and Walmart are top destinations for Hispanic consumers, but they are also more likely than other customers to visit the online sites for Target, Macy’s and J.C. Penney.
“Hispanic consumers are shopping more this holiday season despite speculation of a depressed Hispanic shopping trend,” says Mario X. Carrasco, co-founder and principal of ThinkNow Research. “While brick-and-mortar retailers, such as Target, may be seeing a decline in Hispanic consumers anecdotally, our research across 20 retailers shows more Hispanic consumers shopping at Amazon and Walmart.”
Part of the reason for the increase can be attributed to Hispanic consumers becoming more “shopper-savvy” across generations. “Retailers need to recognize that Hispanics are shopping, and connecting with them is more important than ever,” said Jennifer Elena, founder of Jelena Group. “Think mobile first as Hispanics will make purchases from their smartphone to find better deals.”
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